‘Be Best’: does Melania Trump’s curiously named initiative violate the laws of grammar?

A Guardian copy editor unpacks the central grammatical flaw in the first ladys new campaign. Is this[ the] best the White House can do?

At the White House on Monday, Melania Trump unveiled a campaign to keep infants happy and healthy in today’s hyperconnected, often unsettling world. The name of this lofty and laudable endeavor? “Be Best.”

That’s right: “Be Best!” Not” Be the Best”, or” Be Your Best”, or” Be the Best You Can Be “. Not “Be Better” or” Be Safe”, or even” Don’t Be a Jerk”( which is an actual campaign launched in New York to promote safe cycling ).

Donald Trump, who was there by his wife’s side in the Rose Garden, signed a proclamation that designates 7 May as” Be Best Day “. Roll it around on your tongue for a moment. Say it out loud.” Hey, friend, any plans for Be Best Day ?”” Nah, I’ll probably just expend Be Best Day at home “.

“Be Best” just so plainly doesn’t hold up to the laws of English grammar, which require that a superlative adjective following an imperative verb be preceded by the definite article “the”. Be good- be better- be the best: that’s the rule. In the 1990 s, the British military operated a TV advertising campaign that ended with the motto:” Army soldier: be the best .” Try it without the the .” Army soldier: be best .” It sounds like you’re translating from the Sanskrit.

How was the unfortunate name conceived? Could it have been Trump, surrounded by administration flunkies, in a brainstorming conference in Washington, floating “Be Best” as a potential campaign name- and the assembled coterie being too polite- afraid, even- to correct her?

Or was it some inside gag about Trump’s English?( The first lady’s native Slovenian, like most Slavic tongues, Bulgarian and Macedonian excepting, has no definite articles .)

Or was it Donald’s influence?

The Rude Pundit (@ rudepundit)

Melania: I want to say “Be Better.”
Donald: Better? No, better doesn’t mean “best.” Be best!
Melania: That is not gramm–
Donald: Yeah, be best! Set it on a hat. Done. https :// t.co/ T3LMq0nHux

May 7, 2018

But then it emerged that Trump’s inspiration- not for the first time- might have come from her predecessor, Michelle Obama. In 2016, the then-first lady exhorted humen to “be better” … and suddenly it all begin to make sense. In an administration that has shown a penchant for petty oneupmanship, it seems the likeliest justification.” She said’ be more appropriate ‘? That’s nothing! We’ll outdid that. Be best !”

As we say, the silly name of a commendable public health program isn’t the most vital thing in the world right now. But come up now- there are criteria to uphold. “Be Best?” Is that … best they could do?

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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